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Aristarchus, from two Greek words, "arist," meaning best of (the "arist" in the name Aristarchus means the same as the "arist" in the social term aristocrat) and "archus," meaning rule ("arch" is a suffix found in such words as monarchy, or mono-archy, meaning one ruler) was, despite his high-sounding name, a humble man of God (the fact that relatively so few know of him, even though his dedication to God was second to no one, is a testimony to his humility) was one of the few who had both the faith and the courage to remain with the apostle Paul during the troubles that Paul, and his loyal friends, encountered during their missionary journeys. Aristarchus was with Paul on the shipwreck on Malta and Aristarchus was a "fellow-prisoner" with Paul at Rome - and very likely shared Paul's martyrdom there.

"Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us"

Aristarchus was present at the riot at Ephesus, caused by Paul's teaching that idols are worthless. The riot was incited by Demetrius The Idol Merchant and other businessmen who were the manufacturers and merchants of religious statues and images (see also What Would Mary Really Say About Idolatry?).


"For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth."

"And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre." (Acts 19:24-31 KJV)

Aristarchus' courage was no less than that of Paul - Aristarchus stayed the course regardless of the opposition. He accompanied Paul back to Jerusalem.

"And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheos; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. These going before tarried for us at Troas." (Acts 20:1-5 KJV)

Aristarchus, "a Macedonian of Thessalonica," was on the ship to Rome that was shipwrecked on Malta.

"And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar."

"And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band. And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us." (Acts 26:31-32, 27:1-2 KJV)

Later, in Paul's Epistles to the Colossians and Philemon, along with a few others, Aristarchus remained as Paul's "fellowprisoner":

"Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you" (Colossians 4:10 KJV)

"There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers." (Philemon 1:23-24 KJV)

The Bible does not record what happened to Aristarchus, however one tradition says that he was martyred in Rome by Emperor Nero.

Fact Finder: What was it that turned "witnesses" of the Gospel into "martyrs" for the Gospel?
See Martyrs

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